Tips for Running a Successful Family-Owned Business
Starting Meathead Movers with my brother, Evan, was the greatest decision I’ve made. Sure, running a family-owned business can come with its challenges, but the benefits far out-weight the hurdles. I believe that the reason our company has been so successful over the last 20+ years is because we have run the business as partners and as family.
Starting a business with a partner requires immense amounts of trust. You invest everything you have into growing your business vision and the person alongside you needs to support you every step of the way. When Evan and I started Meathead Movers, we wanted the same thing and we agreed on how we were going to do it. We trusted that we were both committed to our company, our brand and our mission 100% and we were both going to do whatever it took to make our dream a reality. Here’s how we’ve made it work:
Be open and honest about roles, responsibilities and expectations.
From day one, Evan and I had to make it clear to each other who was going to handle what parts of the business in order to be as successful as possible. Setting those clear roles early on will allow business owners and family members to feel comfortable owning those duties and the other family members are able to respect that. It can be easy to lose site of the difference between the role of business partner and big brother, but in order to be successful in a business setting – the line has to be drawn. Unless a matter affecting the business is urgent to address, each partner can feel secure making executive decisions on behalf of the company and the other partner should be supportive of that.
When you can’t agree on a matter, communication is key.
When doing business with a family member, it’s easy to let emotions get in the way of productive conversations. You have to remember that the goal of every discussion is to make the best decision for the company and not sever your relationship at the same time. Serve the needs of your business and your business partner first. By approaching your business partner in an appropriate setting (trust me, that’s not at the family dinner table), and making sure that they’re in a position to hear your concerns – you can surely put your emotions aside to come to a mutually beneficial conclusion. Still can’t agree? Take a break from the conversation and revisit it. There’s always a compromise.
Make time for family outside of the business.
Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, it’s crucial to set aside some time where you can continue to be family members instead of just business partners. Sure, sometimes business discussions will arise when you’re spending time outside of the office, but don’t be afraid to tell your partner that you need a break from work talk and just want to catch up on life. This will maintain a healthy relationship in and outside of the business, constantly reminding you why you got into business together in the first place.
On that note, never forget why you got into business together in the first place.
Evan and I knew that we wanted to start Meathead Movers to grow together, experience a sense of freedom and to build an empire based on our core values. When our business has gone through the toughest of times, it was easy for us to look at each other, remind each other why we’re here and keep pushing forward. As family and as business partners, you’re the most motivating person to one another. At the end of the day, you want your business to be okay, your family relationship to be okay and to be happy. Don’t let the challenges of running a business let you forget that!
Fast forward 22 years and Evan and I have built the largest independent moving company in California and we’re just getting started! By keeping these tips top-of-mind in every business interaction, we’re able to maintain an incredible relationship inside and outside of the office. There’s something very special about a business being built off of the trust and respect that comes from a family, and we’re proud to be one of the successful ones!
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